Maybe you’re a clean sleeper, with a whole host of rituals in place to ensure you get into bed at the right time and get a good night’s rest – good for you! Or perhaps you have no set routine and have been known to just roll into bed at some point during the darkest hours of the day, still wearing your make up and failing to take off your tights?
If you’re leaning towards the latter, listen up – you’ve got yourself stuck in an unhealthy habit that may be resulting in underperformance and stress. But there are a few easy fixes that can help, you just need to enforce some ‘absolute no nos’.
1. Do not check Whatsapp
In fact, do not check any type of screen. That includes your laptop, tablet, Kindle and mobile phone. The blue light emitted from these devices suppresses the production of the sleep hormone, melatonin and can prevent you from falling asleep. Ideally, you should not expose yourself to the blue light for up to two hours before bedtime, so ditch Netflix and treat yourself to a good book instead.
2. Put down that nightcap
A quick tipple or two may sound like a relaxing proposition, but don’t be fooled by that warm fuzzy feeling. While the sedative effects of alcohol enable you to fall asleep quickly it does not result in a truly deep sleep. Your sympathetic nervous system never really shuts down, which means your body wakes you up after just a few hours and you feel groggy the next day.
3. After dinner coffee
Actually, even after lunch coffee should be a no no, as it is suggested that no caffeine should be drunk after about 2 pm. Coffee has an interesting impact on the body, acting as a stimulant and delaying the rise of melatonin, that highly desirable sleep hormone. This is turn can impact your body clock – an internal mechanism controlled by the brain – setting it back by a whole hour and leaving you struggling to get to sleep. So while a morning cuppa is great to set you up for the day, avoid it in the afternoon at all costs!
4. Forgetting to draw the curtains
Don’t let any light creep into your room. According to sleep guru Arianna Huffington, any hint of light in your bedroom is preventing you from getting a restful, restorative night’s sleep. Try an eye mask for a quick-fix, but in the long term, you should invest in some heavy curtains or a black-out blind.
5. No more midnight snacking
Although scientists can’t agree on the best time to stop eating before bed, the general consensus is that 3 hours before bed is best. The body needs time to process the meal before falling asleep, to ensure your digestive system is not slaving away throughout the night. Sugar is a particularly bad food choice, so think twice before saying yes to that dessert if you’re planning an early night.
If the thought of implementing all of these changes at once is enough to make you lose even more sleep, try making them part of your routine one by one. Remember, it takes just thirty days to form a habit, and the benefits will last the rest of your lifetime!
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